On Jan 1, 2021, one day after the iconic sign was removed, the Cliff House was covered in graffiti. (Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

On Jan 1, 2021, one day after the iconic sign was removed, the Cliff House was covered in graffiti. (Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

Newly vacant Cliff House begins New Year covered in graffiti

One day after the iconic sign was removed from San Francisco’s Cliff House, marking the end of an era at the popular tourist site, the historic building was covered with graffiti.

Residents and visitors taking a New Year’s Day walk Friday morning were greeted with sprawling black graffiti letters across the usually pristine white building, which overlooks Sutro Baths and Ocean Beach.

And it was not the only place tagged in the area. The vacant Louis’ Diner just up the street, which also closed in July after 83 years, had graffiti visible on its walls as well.

The Cliff House closed officially Thursday after restaurant operators Dan and Mary Hountalas said they were unable to reach an agreement with the National Park Service over a long-term lease or continue operating at a loss during the pandemic. The restaurant ended in-house dining in March, due to the pandemic, and ceased operations altogether in July after a brief, money-losing attempt at offering take-out only service.

The Cliff House closed officially Thursday after the longtime operators were unable to reach a lease agreement with the National Park Service. (Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

The Cliff House closed officially Thursday after the longtime operators were unable to reach a lease agreement with the National Park Service. (Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

The closure also affects a coffee shop at the Lands End Visitors’s Center.

The Park Service, which controls the property, said it had offered a three-and-a-half year lease extension to the family, but that they had declined the offer.

“This decision, however, does not mean the Cliff House building will permanently close,” the agency said in a statement, describing the closure as a “temporary suspension of services.” “The NPS is committed to maintaining this iconic building.”

The closure and sudden appearance of graffiti, however, raise questions about the long term future of the tourist area at Lands End.

(Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

(Sara Gaiser/S.F. Examiner)

The Cliff House is the third and last major restaurant in the area to shut down this year. The Seal Rock Inn Restaurant, just up the road, announced its permanent closure in August, shortly after Louis’.

While the park service has said it plans to resume service at the Cliff House, it has also said the solicitation process is currently suspended due to the pandemic, leaving it unclear exactly when the building will be occupied again.

The agency has said that it plans to take steps to prevent vandalism. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on the new graffiti.

Louis’ Diner, which closed in July 2020, also has graffiti on it. (Sara Gaiser, S.F. Examiner)

Louis’ Diner, which closed in July 2020, also has graffiti on it. (Sara Gaiser, S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor-elect Connie Chan, who will be sworn in to represent the Richmond District on Jan. 8, called the graffiti “disheartening” and “disappointing,” especially coming so soon after the closure. She said she intends to facilitate conversations with the community about what residents would like to see happen in the area.

Chan said the closure highlighted the need for The City to help legacy and small businesses.

“It is a challenging situation,” Chan said. “I know that it’s not unique to the Outer Richmond, it’s really our entire city. How do we recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic as a city, not just this area?”

Louis’ Diner, which closed in July 2020, sits empty with multiple graffiti tags on it on Jan. 1, 2021. (Sara Gaiser, S.F. Examiner)

Louis’ Diner, which closed in July 2020, sits empty with multiple graffiti tags on it on Jan. 1, 2021. (Sara Gaiser, S.F. Examiner)

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